Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction-Horror’

AKA Alien Contamination
Directed By: Luigi Cozzi


Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Siegfried Rauch, Marino Mase, Gisela Hahn, Carlo De Mejo, Carlo Monni, Mike Morris

Synopsis: Alien eggs are showing up everywhere, spewing goo that causes people to explode. How are they spreading, and who can stop them?

Following his modest success with Starcrash, Director Luigi Cozzi set out to make another Sci-Fi film. As many Italian genre movies tend to do, eyes turned towards American success, settling on Ridley Scott’s Alien. Cozzi couldn’t match the budget that Scott worked with, so the film takes place on Earth.

The film’s producers were in the same office that cranked out Fulci’s Zombie 2, so Ian McCulloch was selected for one of the star roles. Cozzi wanted to add Caroline Munroe, but was over-ruled, which is too bad, as she is a great actress and absolutely gorgeous.

In typical fashion, the movie was filmed quickly over 8 weeks. Cozzi had different plans for the alien at the end of the movie, but budget ultimately overruled his vision, and what we saw on the screen was a poorly crafter animatronic puppet that Cozzi claimed didn’t ever work and he was forced to use clever editing as the alien was moved off-screen. Watching the movie, the alien is not impressive.

In the end, Contamination isn’t as big of an Alien rip-off as I was expecting. Sure, it has alien eggs that spell certain doom for people, but the similarities pretty much end there. I really enjoyed the first two thirds of the movie, but when they get to the alien at the end, they lost me to a degree. Even still, Contamination has a certain charm to it and I can see myself watching this again. There is a very nice Arrow edition available if you are looking at adding it to your collection.

How Nasty Is It? As far as Video Nasty’s go, Contamination isn’t that bad. There are loads of exploding people, but it just isn’t very graphic. It’s pretty obvious how the effects are pulled off, as the camera cuts away, then goes back to a dummy with an explosive pack on it. I think Contamination is one of those moves that made the list more on the thought of what is happening rather than actually judging what is on the screen.


Science Team

Directed By: Drew Bolduc

Starring: Vito Trigo, Richard Spencer, Emily Marsh, Matt Chodornek, Mariea Terrell, Josh Potter, Lloyd Kaufman

Synopsis: Chip battles a telepathic alien and The Science Team.

Thoughts: Science Team comes to us from Drew Bolduc, creator of The Taint, and promises a movie unlike any you’ve seen. I will have to say Drew is correct. This is not an easy movie to categorize. It’s got plenty of laughs, but it’s not exactly a comedy. There’s an alien, so you could categorize it as Sci-Fi, but it doesn’t fit well there either. Of course there is a good amount of gore and melting faces, but this isn’t a horror movie either. What it is, however, is a lot of fun, and I could see this becoming a bit of a cult hit. It plays like a “midnight movie.” Something a crowd of people could get into, laughing along and cringing at some scenes in unison.

Science Team was put together on a self-proclaimed micro-budget, but that’s not apparent from the quality of the production. The camera work, editing and score are all pretty fantastic. You don’t feel like you are watching a cheap movie by any means. At times, the acting can be a bit distracting, but for the most part, the actors do a great job. Vito Trigo, who plays Chip, is a very intense personality. There were a couple of scenes where he was downright frightening on the screen (like when he lost his mother). It really pulled you out of a campy horror movie and made you a bit uncomfortable (in a good way). I think he could play a very dark personality effectively (thinking something along the line of Taxi Driver).

While I’ve heard of The Taint before, this is actually the first I’ve heard the name Drew Bolduc. I am thoroughly impressed with what he has done on such a small budget, and sincerely hopes he continues to make movies. He’s got the creativity and eye that is sometimes rare in the realm of film. I’m on the search for The Taint as you read this.

If you’re looking for a fun movie to watch with a group of people, give Science Team a shot. It’s an interesting premise and a great example of innovative filmmaking. You will also be supporting independent filmmaking, which is not a small thing.

You can find out more by visiting this website:

Godzilla 2000: Millenium (1999)


Directed By: Takao Okawara

Starring: Takehiro Murata, Naomi Nishida, Shiro Sano, Hiroshi Abe, Mayu Suzuki

Synopsis: Godzilla battles an alien spaceship and the giant alien monster Orga.

Thoughts: Shortly after the much maligned American blockbuster came out in 1998, the rights to Godzilla went back across the ocean to Japan, where they knew better than to make the big green guy look like a velociraptor.

Godzilla 2000 served as a reboot to the franchise and essentially ignored all previous entries of the series, although the story line is very familiar. Godzilla is a constant threat to Japan, always threatening to destroy a city while the government frantically researches ways to destroy him. Of course there is another faction looking to research and understand Godzilla.

Godzilla ends up battling a recently discovered UFO, which is after Godzilla’s DNA. The aliens use the DNA to reform their bodies, but when combined with Earth’s atmosphere, the alien’s morph into the giant monster Orga. This was a rather obvious turn of events, because no one wanted to see Godzilla fight a UFO. The price of admission HAS to include Godzilla fighting another giant monster.

Orga is a pretty serious looking opponent, but lacks the screen presence and charm of some of Godzilla’s most memorable opponents. This is re-enforced by the fact that this was Orga’s one and only appearance in a Godzilla flick (to date).

Like many of the Godzilla movies, Godzilla 2000 was dubbed for a North American release, but unlike most of the other movies, it actually had a theatrical run (although very limited). The American version is slightly shorter, with the edits actually improving the pacing, but the dubbing has a much campier tone to it. This resulted in the Japanese version being more serious in tone.

There’s a lot to like about Godzilla 2000. It’s very well made, with a good storyline and pretty good effects. For some reason though, this movie just doesn’t stick with me. I think a lot of that has to do with Orga being so nondescript. I also prefer the classic monsters like Ghidorah or Rodan.

If you’re a Godzilla fan, chances are high that you’ve seen this already, but if not, it’s worth watching (as almost all of them are), but it isn’t real high on my list. For collector’s Sony has released a nice version of this under their Toho Godzilla collection, which I’ve happily added to my own collection as well.

Night of the Comet - Gary Pullin

I was the wise old age of 8 in 1984, the same age as my youngest son now. Looking back at the list of movies that came out that year brings a huge grin to my face. When Todd reached out to me to contribute to his 1984-a-thon, my mind went through all the movies that I could pick. There are a lot of movies that I’ve introduced my kids to, including Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid and Gremlins. Being a fan of the often maligned horror genre, there are also a couple of classics that I could have picked in A Nightmare on Elm Street and Children of the Corn, but I knew pretty quickly that I had to pick Night of the Comet.

My love of Night of the Comet started early, albeit not in 1984. My parents were pretty strict with the movies I got to watch at my tender age (although I did see Gremlins pretty early on). I don’t recall when I first laid eyes upon Night of the Comet, but it was likely in Junior High, when my parents (or more accurately, my friend’s Parents) were less mindful about what we were watching.

Although both of the leads are easy on the eyes, it was the images of some of the zombies that really stuck with me, especially the motorcycle cops and the kid. It took many years for Night of the Comet to get a release on DVD, but as soon as it did, I was one of the first in line to pick it up. When I revisited the movie, I essentially fell in love with the movie all over again, which seems to be the exception these days.

Night of the Comet has some fantastic imagery in it, from the pretty nasty looking creatures to the empty cityscapes. It really is a showcase for what horror fans love about the 80s; great practical FX and latex masks. There aren’t really any great kills or gory scenes, but the atmosphere is there.

As with so many horror movies, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not just the monsters that are evil, but also humankind themselves. The introduction of the scientists, and Geoffrey Lewis in particular, keep the story from getting stale and give us more than random monsters to root against.

To say the acting is over the top is an understatement, but it helps make Night of the Comet a snapshot of the early 80s. Big hair and valley girl accents rule the day, but it really gives the movie its charm. The scene in the mall seems to be an homage to Romero’s Dawn, but also fits right in with the vibe of the movie.

While 1984 was a banner year for films, there are a lot of hidden gems to be found as well, and in my opinion Night of the Comet is one of those movies. Grab some popcorn, your favorite beverage and enjoy!

Read my original review of Night of the Comet here!

The Stuff

Directed By: Larry Cohen

Starring: Michael Moriarty, Garrett Morris, Andrea Marcovicci, Paul Sorvino, Scott Bloom, Danny Aielo

Subgenre: Supernatural

Synopsis: The newest junk food craze is more than it seems.  It’s highly addictive and also has the unfortunate side effect of eating you while you are eating it.

Thoughts: Larry Cohen has made some crazy movies.  I haven’t seen all of his movies, but The Stuff has to be close to the top of the list as one of the craziest.  I’m not sure how you come up with killer ice cream that bubbles up from the ground, but Cohen does just that.  The movie is reminiscent of The Blob with the way The Stuff moves, which is probably part of the reason that I love it.  The Blob has long been a favorite of mine.

The cast is pretty packed with notable actors.  Michael Moriarty, a frequent collaborator with Larry Cohen, is probably most recognized from his run on Law and Order.  I’m pretty sure that show is on every hour of the day on some channel.  Character actor Garrett Morris plays a small, but memorable part as well.  It’s interesting to note that Larry Cohen actually wanted to cast a young Arsenio Hall in that role, but was trumped by the studio as they wanted a more recognizable face.  Other notable names include Paul Sorvino and Danny Aielo.  Sorvino plays a crazy leader of a militia and is the very definition of over-the-top in his role.  Mira Sorvino, Paul’s daughter, makes a cameo appearance as well, just because she came to the set one day to visit her father.

Larry Cohen’s career has been filled with very original movies.  You surely cannot accuse him of copying current trends to make movies.  His movies are also usually filled with social commentary, whether it is pointing a finger at the church in God Told Me Too, societal acceptance in the It Lives trilogy or consumerism in The Stuff.  It is apparent that Cohen has a lot to say and uses his movies to say it.  Cohen has focused on writing screenplays the last couple of years, although he did get back behind the camera to direct a Masters of Horror episode in 2006.

The Stuff may not top any lists of best 80s horror, but I think it works on a couple levels.  At its core, it is a fun sci-fi/horror movie with tongue in cheek humor, but is also a deeper movie, damning both American consumerism as well as our abhorrent eating habits when it comes to junk food.  Cohen delivers his commentary just like I like it.  It’s not too heavy handed and doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the movie, much like Romero’s early work.  I suggest checking it out if you can.  It’s not readily available on DVD or Blu-Ray right now, but you can find it on a couple of different streaming services.



Directed By: Tobe Hooper

Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Mathilda May, Frank Finlay, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard

Subgenre: Science Fiction, Vampires

Synopsis: A space exploration discovers a hidden space ship in Halley’s Comet that contains three humanoid life forms that turn out to be much more than they seem.

Thoughts: I’ve long been a fan of scary science fiction stories.  It’s a love affair that started with Alien and continued on with movies like Event Horizon and Pitch Black.  Interestingly enough, I had not seen Lifeforce prior to Scream Factory releasing it.  I’m not quite sure how that happened, especially with the names Tobe Hooper and Dan O’Bannon ties to it.  Maybe it was fate that I waited to see the spectacular work that Scream Factory put into the release.

The storyline in Lifeforce is really more SciFi than horror and the scary parts are few and far between.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good movie, because it is, but the only real correlation to horror is that the aliens are vampires, or at least a variant of vampires.

Steve Railsback, probably best known for playing Charles Manson in Helter Skelter delivers the goods here as astronaut Tom Carlsen, the lone survivor of the ship that discovered the alien vampires.  Railsback mentions in one of the extras that he feared typecasting after Helter Skelter, but loved the script so much that he decided to do LIfeforce.  Personally, I would have liked to see him do more movies.  He’s got a pretty lengthy resume, but not many major roles.

The other role that I have to mention is that of Mathilda May, a virtual unknown that got her role primarily because she was willing to shed her clothes for large portions of the movie.  There is a fantastic interview where she talks about it at length, as well as one where Tobe Hooper recalls how all the prospective actresses banded together to boycott the nudity.  May did an excellent job, both in portraying the alien vampire and being naked!

Tobe Hooper’s career really peeked early, with the majority of his first films being considered classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eaten Alive and The Funhouse.  Lifeforce certainly belongs in that group.  It’s rather peculiar that his later movies never regained the success of his earlier movies. 

I recommend checking out LIfeforce.  It’s definitely more SciFi than horror, but appeals to both crowds.  I also highly suggest Scream Factory’s recent release.  It has some great extras and features an outstanding transfer.

Frankensteins Army

Directed By: Richard Raaphorst

Starring: Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse, Robert Gwilym, Alexander Mercury, Luke Newberry, Hon Ping Tang, Andrei Zayats, Mark Stevenson

Subgenre: Science Fiction, Gothic, Supernatural

Synopsis: Near the end of World War II, Russian Soldiers locate a secret Nazi lab where the descendent of Dr. Frankenstein has been creating a secret army.

Thoughts: This was a movie I picked up based solely on a few comments by a friend and the title.  I really knew nothing other than what I imagined based on the title.  I was really hoping to see an army of mad scientist made monsters going to battle.  I’m happy to report that is exactly what this movie has.

The biggest complaint I’ve heard about this movie is that it is of the found footage variety.  I admit that it is an overused medium, but I think it really works here. The “taper” is a soldier that is chronicling the last days of World War II while secretly leading his group to find the descendent of Dr. Frankenstein.  This helps to explain the videotaping as well as why the taping continues once the carnage begins.

Often times with the found footage technique, character development suffers.  You just don’t get the insight into character motivations and true feelings like you do with traditional filmmaking.  While you see a lot of that here with the soldiers, I thought that the development of Viktor the Mad Scientist was fantastic.  He completely stole the scenes he was in and was a remarkable madman.

Of course, the real stars of this show are the monsters.  It’s as if Gwar invaded a Power Rangers episode.  Each of the creations look as if they were constructed out of spare parts in a lab, which is a huge success for the filmmakers.  It would have been easy to over stylize the monsters into something sleeker, but I loved the haphazard look.

Frankenstein’s Army is Richard Raaphorst’s feature debut, but he is no stranger to the genre.  He’s worked in various roles over the years on films such as Dagon and Beyond Re-Animator.  Much like acting, it is difficult to evaluate a Director’s skills with found footage films.  You don’t get much sense for his eye, but I can say that he kept the story moving and there wasn’t a lot of down time.  At the very least, I think that Frankenstein’s Army will garner enough attention that Raaphorst will get more opportunities in the genre.

This movie has been one of my favorite surprises of 2013. I wasn’t expecting a lot and ended up loving the movie.  I highly recommend checking it out.  It’s a fun movie that features some great creature design.